By The Progressive on June 01, 2007
Iraq Vet Faces Penalty for Protesting War
June 1, 2007 By Matthew Rothschild

Adam Kokesh joined the Marines in 1999.

He served as a Marine sergeant in Fallujah and was given an honorable discharge last November, remaining in the Individual Ready Reserve until his time was up, which is on June 18.

Now Kokesh is in trouble.

A member of Iraq Veterans Against the war, Kokesh went to DC for an anti-war rally in March wearing his uniform, though he had removed his nametag and other insignia.

After The Washington Post identified him in a photo, his superiors contacted him, alleging that he violated a military rule by wearing his uniform without authorization.

Kokesh says the Marines are trying to deprive veterans and members of the Reserve of their free speech rights.

“Those who have risked their lives to defend the rights of all Americans have a special claim to those rights when they have completed their service,” he wrote in a letter to the prosecuting attorneys.

Kokesh added: “Is the Marine Corps attempting to strip away those rights from the hundreds of thousands in the inactive reserves?”

Kokesh accused the Marine prosecutors of “preventing the American public from hearing the truth about Iraq by intimidating those who would disagree with you from speaking out.” If they are trying to “silence the voices of those whose experiences are most relevant in the most pressing debate before the nation,” they should “kindly, go f***” themselves, he wrote.

Adam KokeshOn Monday, Kokesh faces an administrative hearing in Kansas City, Missouri, with the Marines threatening to change his discharge status from honorable to “other than honorable.”

“The reason for the hearing to see if there were violations of the uniform regulations and disrespect to a commissioned officer,” Master Sergeant Ronald Spencer says. “The board is not convening about free speech. He has the right to freedom of speech. Everyone does. It deals with possible violation of the uniform regulations and with his insubordination to a superior officer.”

Spencer says that after the hearing, the administrative board will meet and then give a recommendation to the commander. “It can take up to two weeks,” he says.

If Kokesh gets a “less than honorable discharge,” he “could lose some health benefits and be forced to repay about $10,800 he received to obtain his undergraduate degree on the GI Bill,” the AP reports.

Update: At the administrative hearing on June 4, the three-member panel recommended that Kokesh be given a “general discharge,” which is one step lower than an “honorable discharge” but better than a “less than honorable discharge.”

Kokesh vowed to fight the downgrade. “I’m standing on principle, and we’re going to contest this on principle,” he said. Kokesh, who wore an Iraq Veterans Against the War T-shirt, decried what he called the “tactics of intimidation” that the Marines were using.

According to Reuters, Kokesh “was asked during the hearing if he was a ‘card-carrying member’ of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, what membership entailed, and if he voted in the last Presidential election.”

On June 5, Kokesh’s lawyer petitioned the Marines for a new hearing.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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